Battle of Picacho Pass

Photo by Deanna Dent

On Sunday I decided to visit a civil war re-enactment of the battle of Picacho Pass which in reality was a small skirmish regardless it was the westernmost battle fought during the civil war. Since before Picacho Peak became an Arizona State Park in 1967 reenactors have been coming out to recreate the skirmish. Officially the park has helped organize the event for 48 years with coordination between rangers and Union and Confederate commanders who help organize their re-enactors but the battle was happening annually long before that. I have heard about this since I was young but never actually seen it myself, like so many Arizonans. A ranger mentioned that these reenactors were today’s Harry Potter reenactors, just people wanting to have a good time.

Civil War reenactors from Mesa, Tucson, Prescott and even from California, New Mexico, Virginia and many other states came to recreate the skirmish. They also recreate other civil war battles and bring canons that are fired during two prior battles during the day. The final battle of Sunday was the true skirmish where three Confederate soldiers were surprised by Union cavalry (they traveled up from Sierra Vista) and proceeded to surprise and drive off the Union soldiers. According to the park nearly 6,000 people attend throughout Saturday and Sundays’ battles and visitors can wander through the camps learning about life during the civil war. I wish I had been able to spend the entire weekend with them. I shot a few portraits below of some of the interesting people I met, I have to say I was drawn to the Confederate camp because most had no uniform, one reenactor explained that Confederates didn’t have government issued uniforms so they wore whatever they could manage. The Union camp was outfitted in full uniforms, but children roamed everywhere in 18th century dresses and period pants.

The scene was interesting too, with spectators climbing up onto the side of the mountain for better views and exclaiming or covering their ears with each canon shot. Even in the nearly 90 degree weather people gathered to watch the action, I didn’t really include many of the battle, you’re set back out of the way and the most interesting part where those who came to perform and those who came to watch.

Photo by Deanna Dent

Holi Celebration in Phoenix!



When I was a student at Arizona State University I attended my first Holi celebration but it is nothing compared to what I experience at South Mountain Park at an event hosted by the Indian Association of Phoenix. It was madness, but a slow madness and I’m lucky I only got caught by two people. If you want to know more about the festival I would recommend clicking the link above as wikipedia will do a better job than I will.

What I loved about the celebration was the pure joy of it, when I teach my photojournalism students about capturing moments we talk about how difficult that can be. People are so aware in everyday life it’s hard to capture honest moments of emotion. A festival like this is beautiful because it reminds people how much fun can be had in just a few hours of their Sunday afternoon. I saw grown men chasing each other with water guns and dousing each other with buckets of colored water. It is rare to see adults, myself included, reduced to the pure joy of childhood and it makes those ‘moments’ so much easier to capture. My only lament was that I couldn’t properly participate (I had a formal event I was shooting later in the day and the dyes do stick to your skin . . . ).

Arpaio Court Appointed Monitor



pARTying Backstage

pARTy at the Phoenix Art MuseumI know I say this all the time, but I adore Darrylee Cohen at Haute Photography and she gave me the opportunity to shoot backstage as models prepared for the Neiman Marcus fashion show before the start of the pARTy at the Phoenix Art Museum. These are just a few of the images I really loved.

Love in the Hills


An excerpt below from an Atlantic article by Emily Esfahani Smith covering the new book by Barbara Fredrickson and the changing idea of love.

“Fredrickson, a leading researcher of positive emotions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents scientific evidence to argue that love is not what we think it is. It is not a long-lasting, continually present emotion that sustains a marriage; it is not the yearning and passion that characterizes young love; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship.

Rather, it is what she calls a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.” She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store. Louis Armstrong put it best in “It’s a Wonderful World” when he sang, “I see friends shaking hands, sayin ‘how do you do?’ / They’re really sayin’, ‘I love you.'”

I read this article and found that it resonated with me, I mean what is photography but trying to create those micro-moments with the people you are covering? When I chose to visit the Love in the Hills put on by Sami’s Fine Jewelers I didn’t know what to expect aside from a marketing event for the company but I was hoping to see something of love on Valentines Day and hopefully see so many “micro-moments.”

It surprised me to find something that resembled a pilgrimage for married couples who wanted to share their love with strangers, which after reading this article, made so much more sense. They struck me as apostles for love, sharing their stories and personal secrets of maintaining love to those who might listen and were receptive to their sermon. Toni Minndeci dressed in red with a cream colored veil, going 63 years strong with her husband, told me “Honey, I pinch his ass every night before bed,” and her husband Sam just smiled while her family exclaimed. They are pictured below.



I met another couple, Sarah and Shawn Eversole (picture center above), who had been together just a few years but watched them stare into each others eyes the entire time the officiator spoke during the ceremony and connect on a deep level that even now I’m not sure I have ever experienced. Others brought their wedding veils, wedding day photographs and shared it with those who asked. I met the Erdos, together for 46 years, and they said it was the adversity of immigrating to the states and raising their children, that helped them move through life together.


It was at a basic level a confirmation of love, along with an opportunity win a free round of golf, but it also struck me as people who wanted to make positive connections with strangers, who in turn were attracted to the event because of the possible connection they could make others. It was probably one of the most surprisingly positive events I’ve had to shoot in the past few weeks and reminded me of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez quote, “There is always something left to love.”


Humphrey Scholars visit the U.S.-Mexico border

We started our trip at 6am with a visit to Chairman Austin G. Nunez of the Tohono O’Odham nation in the San Xavier district. The beautiful San Xavier mission is a favorite for scholars, even though we literally had 15 minutes to visit the historical Southern Ariz. church.

Our second stop was visiting Pierson High School in Nogales, Ariz. where we first heard from principal Joel Kramer and then from Sheriff Tony Estrada who interestingly enough has won as many elections as Sheriff Arpaio though running on a completely different platform on immigration and enforcement which would be expected with his position on the border.

Photo by Deanna Dent

After hearing from the Sheriff we were spoken to by DHS officers Jesus Lozania and Brian McNulty before being given a tour of the Nogales port of entry by officer Badillo. We returned to the high school for a final visit with US consul general of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico Christopher Teal. At the end of the day we had dinner at Wisdom’s cafe in Tubac, Ariz. and bought some girl scout cookies.

Photo by Deanna Dent

Photo by Deanna Dent

Tent City tour by the ASU and UMN Humphrey scholars


Thursday last week was interesting, I was able to tag along with Humphrey Scholars from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and University of Minnesota as they spoke with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and took a tour of tent city. The groups were comprised of journalism, human rights advocates, lawyers, judges and law enforcement officials from a plethora of different countries and they were able to listen to Sheriff Arpaio talk about his approach to law enforcement and address everything from his religion to his human rights record.



For many scholars the idea of an outdoor jail was something completely new, but when I served in Peace Corps in Zambia our local district Mwinilunga, functioned in much the same way. The fact that tent city serves no meat in their menu was a particular point of interest as well as prisoners working as a means to staying in the short term tent city as opposed to staying downtown. Pink underwear came up of course.

I’m uploading some images that I liked and trying to respect that I asked inmates before taking their photo, we had limited time but it was interesting to see the facility after growing up with it as a constant presence. My mother worked across the street and I remember as a child several times when she was late coming home because an inmate had escaped and her office was on lock down.


The inmate pictured above was being released at midnight and was so happy, she said she was clean and would go straight to rehab. She said she read a book a day and her favorite was The Fault in Our Stars, a great book about teens suffering from cancer who were in love. The covers of every book were so worn, it made me want to donate more books.

The image below is difficult to make out but it’s a calendar with crossed out days.


The guards were also interesting to talk to, it just wasn’t enough time.

Verizon Superbowl Central

01/28/2015 - Superbowl Central

Superbowl Central was a madhouse, organized to give those who didn’t want to head all the way out to Glendale an opportunity to participate in the Superbowl madness. I can still recall the first time the Super Bowl came to Arizona in 1996, I was 12 at the time, and I remember how calm it seemed now. Phoenix was such a smaller, calmer place then and puts into perspective how much Arizona has come to embrace the Super Bowl insanity 18 years later.  Human chaos driven by beer and a single game, and thankfully for me I got to photograph the humanity downtown, which if you’ve worked in Arizona the humanity is always better downtown.

I got an assignment from Haute Photography to cover the Verizon Super Bowl central event for the San Francisco Hosting Committee. They wanted to ‘experience’ the Superbowl central event through photographs so I was given some basic times to cover and some general instructions of covering families, anything showing what people were enjoying. I forgot while serving in the Peace Corps in Africa the pure pandemonium that a single game of football can create. I’m glad I wasn’t trying to cover this freshly back, it would have been overwhelming to think of the millions of dollars, thousands of hours and volunteers working to put on this massive event. The photos are random, and specifically my favorite images from the week.

1/29/2015 - Superbowl Central


Rally for Law Enforcement in Scottsdale, Ariz.


Today there was a law enforcement support rally at the Scottsdale Police Department station at Indian School. I was out of the country and missed their first law enforcement support rally in Phoenix but I managed to make this one. They also had former ASU officer Stewart Ferrin who was involved in the arrest of an Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore’s arrest for obstruction of a public thoroughfare after she was stopped for jaywalking speak at the event which drew out a lot of protestors who have been following that incident. Since Ore’s arrest last year Officer Ferrin is in the process of being terminated. Locally one blog down and drought went online and looked as some officer opinions from policeone forum. It’s worth reading and a good blog to follow if you live in the Phoenix area, especially in Tempe.

I included most of the photographs below of the protest, which had around 70 people at most.

Before the rally I was working with other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers cleaning up a home through a volunteer program at the City of Phoenix.

Stop the Killing Protest in Phoenix, Ariz.


The Stop the Killing protest was one of many today across the country. The protest focused on the deaths of Eric Garner, Mike Brown but mainly those deaths in Phoenix of Rumain Brisbon, Michelle Cusseaux and Salvador Reza.

The protestors also focused on the lack of indictment of officers, as many already know in the case of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The protestors began at Cesar Chavez Plaza passed the Phoenix Police Headquarters, turned back up Jefferson and held a die-in at Maricopa County Superior Court, passed through the CVS at Cityscape and stopped for a second die-in at Washington and Central. The die-in’s lasted 4 minutes and 28 seconds to symbolize the time, 4 hours and 28 minutes, that the body of Michael Brown laid in the street after his death.

20141220protest618The protest continued down Central blocking the lightrail line until protestors reached McDowell Road and Central before being stopped by a line of police on the West end of McDowell. At the intersection a prayer was held, along with the “hands up, dont shoot” that has been heard throughout all these incidents.